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HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS/AP) — A county prosecutor in Pennsylvania is opening a criminal investigation into construction on three natural gas liquids pipelines that have drawn blame for causing sinkholes and polluting drinking water and waterways.

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Tom Hogan, Chester County’s district attorney, said Wednesday he’s investigating because the governor and state utility regulators haven’t ensured the construction was being done safely.

It’s a criminal investigation homeowners like Eric Friedman were happy to hear about.

“This used to be freed opened space walking trail,” said Friedman.

Friedman is the Hanover Homeowner’s Association president and says everyone living in their neighborhood is at risk.

“Delaware County recently completed a risk assessment that showed a large leak of these particular materials he is hazardous highly volatile liquids could result in thermal and blast impacts extending to a mile and a half,” said Friedman.

Every home in the neighborhood is within 800 feet of the pipeline. The Chester County District Attorney’s Office is making sure residents aren’t in harm’s way.

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“In the last two years, we have seen these pipelines rip through the heart of Chester County. We have seen sinkholes created by the pipeline drilling, contaminated well water, and some subtle and not-so-subtle bullying of Chester County citizens by big corporate interests. We expected the state regulators and the governor to step in and assure the safety of Pennsylvanians. They have not. So now the Chester County District Attorney’s Office will demand that every aspect of these pipelines be conducted safely, or we will bring into play all of the tools of the criminal justice system,” Hogan said in a statement.


The investigation involves Sunoco Pipeline’s Mariner East projects stretching across southern Pennsylvania.

The parent company, Energy Transfer LP of Dallas, Texas, didn’t immediately respond to messages, but Hogan says the company contacted him Wednesday to see if they can discuss it.

He’s investigating potential crimes including causing or risking a catastrophe, environmental violations and corrupt organizations.

The pipelines have weathered millions of dollars in fines and two temporary shutdown orders from state agencies.

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(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)